NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: UCLA OLB Akeem Ayers
|02.04.11 at 4:24 pm ET|
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Position: Outside Linebacker
Weight: 255 pounds
Achievements: 2010: Second-team Walter Camp All-American and third-team AP All-American. Ayers was one of five Butkus Award finalists, finishing third. A Lott IMPACT Trophy quarterfinalist and a Phil Steele Mid-Season All-American. Ayers was on the Nagurski Trophy, Bednarik Award and Rotary Lombardi Award pre-season watch lists. All-Pac-10 first team by the league’s coaches.
What he brings: One of the best and most versatile defensive players in the nation, Ayers is considered among the top athletic defensive players available in the draft. He made the transition from being the No. 1 defensive end prospect on the West coast coming out of high school to strongside outside linebacker. He played both up as a linebacker and down as a defensive end in college. He made the transition to OLB after redshirting in 2007. Ayers only started three of 12 games as redshirt freshman. He was named honorable mention All Pac-10 with 40 tackles and five tackles for loss, including four sacks.
In 2008, Ayers had a breakout sophomore campaign — 55 tackles and consistent demonstrations of big-play ability with 14.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, four interceptions (two for touchdowns) and two forced fumbles (returning one for a TD). All of the big plays drew the attention of NFL scouts, most of whom believe he is the most athletic and versatile defenders in the draft and that he has a huge upside.
Where the Patriots could get him: No. 17, 28 or in the second round.
Video: Here’s Akeem Ayers (No. 10) in action for the UCLA Bruins:
Notes: Ayers started all 12 games in 2010. He was fourth on the team with 68 tackles, first (tied) with 4.0 sacks, second with 10.0 tackles for loss and second (tied) with two interceptions. Ayers decided to skip his senior season and apply for the 2011 NFL Draft. “I want to thank my coaches, teammates and everyone at UCLA for all of their help the last few years,” Ayers said. “I have had a great experience at UCLA and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to attend such an outstanding school. I will miss playing with my UCLA teammates next year but I feel that the decision to go to the NFL is what is best for my family. I will always be a Bruin.”